Caring for leather shoes (smooth finish leather - not suede or nubuck).
Start by brushing off any mud or other dirt. Don't try to do this if your shoes are wet or damp - allow them to air dry dry naturally, and then brush with either a soft-bristled clothes brush, or a suede brush.
**Top Tip ** When your leather shoes or boots get wet in the rain, NEVER dry them on a heater. This will make the leather stiff and brittle. Instead, stuff your shoes with paper and allow them to dry naturally (away from a direct heat source).
If, when dry, you see a white salt residue, it is important that you clean this off as soon as possible, as salt can wear out leather prematurely; if left untreated, it can discolour and weaken the leather.
A thin layer of colourless wax polish / shoe conditioner between the leather and and harmful elements such as salt, sand or lime will protect your shoes from ageing prematurely (and let's face it, who wants that)!
If you want to add a little shine to your shoes, or cover up scuff-marks, then you will need to use a shoe polish.
Choose a polish which is as close a colour match to your shoes as possible. There are many online shoe-care suppliers with polish of every imaginable colour - we particularly love the theshoelace.co.uk , since they have an ENORMOUS selection of lovely DASCO shoe polishes.
Another online store to check out is shoedoctorshop.co.uk. They stock the wonderful TARRAGO metallic shoe cream which cleans AND adds colour back into metallic finish shoes (which we know are so easy to scuff).
Once you have selected the right colour polish for your shoes, take a soft, lint free cloth, and rub the polish into the shoe with a light, circular motion, taking extra care over scuffed areas.
**Top Tip** use an old toothbrush to rub the polish into creases/hard to reach areas on your shoes.
Allow your shoes to air dry naturally.
Once your shoes are dry, rub gently with a clean cloth to give a little sheen to your shoes.
**Top tip**. Use an old rolled up stocking , and rub over your shoes in a small, circular motion for extra shine!
Caring for waxy leather shoes.
Shoe care for waxy or greasy leather is more or less the same as caring for 'regular' leather shoes. However, instead of a conditioner or polish, you will need to use a wax based cream or 'dubbin' instead. This will help maintain the softness and 'waxy-ness' of the leather and also help to repel water.
Caring for Suede or Nubuck shoes.
It's a common misconception that all suede is simply 'regular' leather sliced in half (and should, therefore, be cheaper than leather). It is true, some shoes are made using 'split suedes', but these tend to be low price/basic shoes (this type of suede has a sort of 'hairy' finish, and is much drier / stiffer to touch).
We commonly use either kid suede, or cow suede or nubuck, all of which are exactly the same as leather - but then the top coating on the leather is meticulously sanded off to produce a soft, velvet-like finish. Whilst this process creates the super-soft, elegant texture that we love, it also causes the leather to become porous and thus more susceptible to scuff marks and staining.
Therefore, it is particularly important to weather/ stain proof your suede shoes before wearing.
Spray a light coating of a professional suede or nubuck protector all over your shoes.
Allow your shoes to dry naturally, then repeat with a second coat.
Once dried a second time, use a soft rubber suede brush, (something similar to the pic below) to brush the nap of the suede back up and remove excess dye.
As mentioned earlier, suede is very porous, so when it is dyed, it absorbs a lot of pigment which can leech out of the leather when your shoes become dampened by rain or sweat. No suede will be completely colour-fast when new, because of the high pigmentation / highly porous nature of this type of leather.
However, you can lessen the chances of getting suede-stained feet by colour-proofing them before wear.
As with weather proofing, you would just need to spray the outside AND inside of your shoes with a suede protector. The more vibrant the colour, the more coats of spray will be needed - but just give them a couple of coats to begin with and see how you get on.
Removing stains / marks from suede shoes.
Firstly, if your shoes are wet or damp, allow them to dry naturally, then use a soft clothes brush or suede brush to clean off any dirt.
Apply a good quality suede & nubuck cleaner, (available from most supermarkets or the two online shoe-care specialists already mentioned) rubbing into the dirty area in a small circular motion. Allow to dry naturally.
Brush again with the soft clothes brush or suede brush.
Fabric / Satin upper shoes.
Canvas or satin shoes are often the most delicate so need extra care.
It is always a good idea to spray your fabric shoes with a water / stain proofing spray such as Scotchguard BEFORE you wear them for the first time. This will help to prevent watermarks or stains. Ask your local shoe repair store for the correct spray for the type of shoes you have , and follow the instructions on the can carefully.
If you do get a dirty mark on your shoes, again, speak with your local shoe repair store - many stains can be removed with a fabric shoe cleaner or dry cleaning fluid - but BE GENTLE when cleaning so as not to snag the fabric.
Further shoe maintenance tips.
It's a good idea to use wooden shoe blocks / shoe trees (I LOVE the cedar scented ones - which if left at the bottom of your closet, also help to keep moths away)!. However, the cheaper plastic ones are also pretty effective.
Put these into your shoes after each wear. This will help the leather to spring back into its original, box-fresh shape. This will help to keep your shoes looking like new, for longer.
Try to resist wearing the same pair of shoes, two days in a row. Give your shoes a breather, and use shoe trees to snap them back into shape and smooth out creases between wears.
However, it is an equally bad idea to have shoes sitting at the back of your closet for years on end , and wear only very occasionally. If the shoes are not worn, and not conditioned for a number of years, the leather will start to harden and shrink. This in turn will expose some of the glues used to hold parts of the shoe together and the glue will then start to dry out - which could cause the upper to part ways from the outsole!
We hope you find this guide useful. If you have any further questions on how to maintain the loveliness of your L Fire's, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org